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Zoom Presents Itself as a Comprehensive Collaboration Solution Provider

During the Zoomtopia 2023 keynote on October 3, 2023, via an array of speakers, Zoom laid out its major accomplishments over the last year and its vision for the next, leaning into incorporation of generative AI, collaboration within the Zoom collaboration platform, reimagining how (collaborative) work is done, and facilitating remote and hybrid work and integrations with other software tools and devices.

Eric Yuan, Zoom’s founder and CEO briefly summarized each of the above with an emphasis on how Zoom “just works” – a theme carried across many of the subsequent presentations. The company’s integration of generative AI into its solutions was of course a key message, and Yuan was crystal clear on how Zoom approaches responsible AI and protecting customer privacy. “We provide maximum privacy and control. Your IT team always has the choice about a generative AI feature being used or not,” he said. “We do not use any of our customers content and data to train our AI models.”

Yuan also emphasized much of what the company has already announced: that Zoom’s AI Companion, which uses generative AI, is available at no additional cost to paid customers tiers. This stands in sharp contrast to Microsoft’s plans to charge a monthly fee per each Copilot user. He also reiterated Zoom’s federated approach to AI, which means that in addition to using its own large language models (LLMs), Zoom also enables access to others – e.g., Anthropic, OpenAI, and Llama 2. This document discusses how Zoom AI Companion handles customer data.

The emphasis on generative AI really focused on Zoom’s AI Companion which is accessible in every nook and cranny of Zoom’s growing platform. Smita Hashim, Zoom’s chief product officer, talked about how AI Companion can work within the Zoom videoconferencing platform to provide chat summaries and generate suggested chat messages, meeting catchups and summaries, and, for recorded meetings, automatically create chapters, as well. (These are all features that NJ has previously reported on.)

Hashim also said that in the coming months, AI Companion will be able to pull information from multiple sources including third-party applications (e.g., CRM) and generate summaries across all recent meetings, chat sessions. While users are in meetings, they can access the AI Companion via the in-app sidebar to facilitate multitasking without toggling between screens – pulling up a customer record to review it, for example.

Zoom also unveiled Zoom Docs and upgraded its contact center offerings. Check out Zeus Kerravala’s linked article for a detailed discussion of those products.

Zoom’s implementation with Flex, a multinational manufacturer with operations in more than 30 countries and over 172,000 employees, was highlighted via a short use case video. The gist of that use case was this: Flex is using Zoom as its collaboration and communications platform, from the Zoom app on smartphones, to the factory floor to “huddles” in Zoom rooms.

“You can be on a conversation on your computer, transfer these to your cell phone, have access to your chat history to whiteboards,” said Sergio Dammroze, IT Director of Collaborative Solutions with Flex. “And you can use their Zoom Phone extension. It really makes the difference when you have to be on the move.”

Cynthia Lee, Group Product Manager, Zoom Rooms & Workspaces, talked about what Zoom is doing with facilities management offerings. She highlighted Zoom’s Workspace Reservation which enables hotdesk reservations, and she mentioned that the AI in that application will facilitate the reservation of a “desk near the people you work with the most and soon we’ll help you find that desk with our new wayfinding feature.” This idea of working near your team as a key enabler of returning to the office was discussed in the linked article.

Lee also emphasized Zoom’s integrations with Neat and Dten boards and Jabra devices. She also mentioned Intelligent Director, Zoom’s AI-based approach to leverage multiple room cameras (such as those provided by Poly and Logitech) to make “hybrid meeting more inclusive by displaying each person in the same way,” she said. In 2024, Zoom will display name tags for each individual participant on their video tile within the meeting.

Lee and the other presenters also showed how all of the applications within Zoom’s platform – Scheduler, Calendar, Mail, Chat, Zoom Notes, Whiteboard, Docs etc. – can be searched via Zoom’s new Global Search function. And this functionality will extend to third-party applications that are integrated with Zoom.

Finally, Lee teased Zoom Clips which allows users to record a video message that can be broadcast via the Zoom platform to team members. Zoom Clips is currently in public beta and will be generally available later in October.

Zoom Contact Center and Events were primarily discussed via the Major League Baseball (MLB) implementation of those products. MLB became a Zoom customer in mid-March 2023.

Brendan Ittelson, Zoom’s Chief Ecosystem Officer, spoke about how Zoom can be integrated with by third-parties but also how Zoom can itself be embedded within other applications. “Our framework provides guidance on how we can surface your app of choice right within Zoom. Or we can embed Zoom within your app of choice,” Ittelson said.

One example of this was how Zoom can be used with Figma, a design application, to enable real-time collaboration on designs. Other examples include ServiceNow and Salesforce. “You can connect systems of record like a knowledge base or CRM into Zoom Contact Center and once the connection is made between the two systems, users can leverage Zoom’s native interface to take actions on the data, like utilizing AI companion to surface knowledgebase articles,” Ittelson said. Obviously, a key concern here is data privacy and security which is perhaps partly why Yuan led off with Zoom’s position on those topics.

Ittelson also cited an integration with RealWear, which makes wearable technology, that enables a remote worker to see what a frontline worker – a doctor, field service technician, etc. – is seeing via the device and collaborate with them. Beyond these showcase integrations, in the Zoom App Marketplace there are more than 2,500 prebuilt integrations which IT administrators can curate and pre-authorize for Zoom users.

Yuan had kicked off the keynote presentation with an emphasis on the future and how impossible it obviously is to predict what’s coming. “Let's all stop asking what the future of work is and start asking the real question: What challenges are you experiencing now and what do you and your people need?” Based on what Zoom presented in the keynote, Zoom’s answer to that question is to become an AI-powered, comprehensive collaboration solution that spans the entire enterprise, from frontline workers to contact center agents and everybody in between that can, perhaps, re-invent how work is done.

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